#MUSTREAD #PREMIERLEAGUESTORIES ON DEC 9 2019 – Is #JurgenKlopp fooling us by saying that title is nowhere near wrapped up yet ?
Liverpool beat Bournemouth 3-0 away from home on Saturday to extend their unbeaten run to 33 Premier League games. More importantly, their title rivals Manchester City further dropped 3 points and sit 14 points behind them with everyone except Jurgen Klopp, ruling them out of title race. Jurgen Klopp insists there is no chance of Liverpool getting carried away with their incredible form. In fact, he has taken an opposite view saying he may have made a mistake in the summer transfer window when he allowed a rising midfielder to leave the club on loan.
Jurgen Klopp said “There are a lot of things you have to do right in a football game to win it. It is not important if you won the last one or not.We don’t really think, we don’t want to assess, we don’t want to sum up, we just want to go for the next one.It is a massive season, it so long and we have so many games the only thing we can do is focus on the next one.”
Here is why Jurgen Klopp is seeing premier league race differently than all of us right now…
Fixture Pile Up
Liverpool are currently in the midst of an unheralded fixture pile-up, partly brought on by their own successes. Advancement in the EFL Cup and success in last year’s Champions League means the Reds must play 10 matches across five competitions in the next 30 days.
- November 23: Crystal Palace (2-1 win – Premier League)
- November 27: Napoli (1-1 draw – Champions League)
- November 30: Brighton (2-1 win – Premier League)
- December 4: Everton (5-2 win – Premier League)
- December 7: Bournemouth (3-0 win – Premier League)
- December 10: RB Salzburg (A – Champions League)
- December 14: Watford (H – Premier League)
- December 17: Aston Villa (A – Carabao Cup)
- December 18: Club World Cup semi-final
- December 21: Club World Cup third place play-off/final
- December 26: Leicester (A – Premier League)
- December 29: Wolves (H – Premier League)
- January 2: Sheffield United (H – Premier League)
- January 3-6: FA Cup Third Round
The injury bug has begun to bite, with Fabinho recently ruled out for approximately eight weeks with ankle ligament damage. Defender Dejan Lovren had to be replaced by Trent Alexander-Arnold in game against Bournemouth. Gini Wijnaldum and Adam Lallana were also out briefly with not serious but at least one match absentee. To Klopp’s credit, he has begun to rotate his starting line-ups, with even the highest of profile stars such as Roberto Firmino, Mohammed Salah and Sadio Mane all afforded rests in the last two matches.
So far Liverpool has been lucky with their best team players available throughout the season but imagine what may happen if Andrew Robertson’s knee goes tomorrow? Or Virgil van Dijk does something unfortunate to his ankle? Or Roberto Firmino breaks a leg or Mo Salah did his ACL in.
Curse of collapses after Holiday Season ( More than double digit leads )
In 1995/1996 season, Newcastle were 12 points clear at the top with 15 games remaining, so the addition of Faustino Asprilla in the winter transfer window was only expected to maintain that surge. Sadly for the Magpies it wasn’t to be, as they suffered a monumental collapse – losing five of their eight Premier League games between February 21 and April 8. That coincided with a incredible meltdown from Kevin Keegan, where he called out Sir Alex Ferguson and roared into his headset ‘I’d love it if we beat them’.
In 1997/1998 season, Manchester United uncharacteristically let a Premier League title slip out of their grasp in this particular campaign. With just nine games left to play United had an 11-point lead over arch nemesis Arsenal. While the Gunners had three games in hand, the Red Devils were still very much in the front seat with their destiny in their own hands. Arsene Wenger got the better of Fergie in a 1-0 win at Old Trafford in March 1998 and from that point onwards the Gunners didn’t look back. United, notoriously known for hunting down their prey, had on this occasion been hunted down themselves.
And if we are talking about Liverpool’s motivation, they will never let 2018/2019 season to be forgotten. It looked like it would finally be Liverpool’s year when they beat Arsenal 5-1 to go nine points clear of second-placed Tottenham on December 29. At the time, Man City had not played their 20th game of the season, but won it against Southampton a day later to close the gap to seven points. Liverpool lost a crucial game to City in January, before being held to goalless draws with Manchester United and Everton. Pep Guardiola’s side won an impressive 14 successive games to secure back-to-back Premier League titles, finishing just one point ahead of the Reds on final day of premier league season.
Player’s are tired
Liverpool as stated above are in the middle of an absolutely insane run of fixtures which will see them play 14 games in around 42 days (depending on when their FA Cup third round is), with no more than four days rest between each, usually two or three and then of course there’s the Carabao Cup/World Club Cup split squad farrago. That sort of run will have even the fittest and energetic players begging for a lie down on a big sofa with a blanket and a DVD of Love Actually, never mind having to maintain title-winning pace. So far the rotation of squad and fringe players have given them 100% results but premier league is a physically demanding, intense and highly competitive league. A small slip up in defense ( Gerrard infamous against Chelsea) or less intensity in tacking , pressing hard on the opponents etc. can make a big difference in winning or losing the match ( Tottenham this season suffered from it ).
Opportunities for Klopp
A bonus for Klopp, at least, is that Kopites won’t need to be appeased by bringing home any cup this season, having been crowned six-time European champions last term. Many may even feel the coach should just save his main starting XI for the league, and fill out his teams in the Champions League and other cup competitions with squad players to ensure they finally bring the Premier League title home this term.
As seen in last few matches, fringe players like Shaqiri or academy players like 16-year-old Harvey Elliott, 17-year-old Sepp van den Berg, 18-year-olds Neco Williams, Curtis Jones and 19-year-old Rhian Brewster look ready to fight for the cause and see more game time in the coming months as Liverpool embark on their manic two months.
This is where Klopp as stated above may regret one decision that he would regret he had not. Harry Wilson was loaned out to Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth at the beginning of the season in order to give him regular game time to aid his development. The Welshman has made an impressive impact with the Cherries, already contributing six goals from just 14 appearances in the league. He could’ve slightly eased the burden on Liverpool’s squad.